STATE OF COMPOSTING IN ITALY BY DAVID NEWMAN, ITALY A)PRESENT SITUATION B) SOME OPEN QUESTIONS TO SOLVE C)FUTURE TRENDS
This presentation refers exclusively to Quality Compost, ie: Compost that is made from pre-selected organic wastes and is freely available for sale to the public as a product. The quality is regulated by Italian Law 748/84 and various integrations. Quality Compost can also, under specific regulations, be used in Organic Farming.
Data supplied by the National Environmental Protection Agency (ANPA) and from the Consortium of Italian Compostors (CIC) of which FISE is a founding member The number of Quality Composting sites has reached 170 throughout Italy. This compares to data from 1993 which found circa 10 plants operating. This data includes even micro-plants, treating 500 t/y.
The Regions in which these plants are mainly present are : Region N° Plants Capacity Eff. Treatment (2001) (T/Y) (T/Y 2001) Piemonte 44 440,000 260,000 Lombardia 33 570,000 356,000 Trentino Alto Adige 15 100,000 33,000 Veneto 12 500,000 400,000 Emilia Romagna 15 450,000 206,000 Toscana 14 206,000 105,000 Le Marche 4 80,000 64,000 Abruzzo 1 28,000 n/d Puglia 1 70,000 n/d
In 2000 we therefore have a total capacity estimated at 2,600,000 tons and effective treatment of circa 1,570,000 tons Plants are operating at average 60% of capacity generally due to lack of compostable materials brought to the plants. The quantity of waste treated by Quality Compost plants, represented circa 7% of all Italian MSW in 2001. In these plants in the year 2000, over 600,000 tons of quality compost was produced
As you can observe, plant sizes differ greatly between the Regions : Average capacity Region N° of Plants 42,000 Veneto 12 30,000 E-Romagna 15 20,000 Marche 4 17,000 t Lombardia 33 14,000 Toscana 14 10,000 t Piemonte 44 7,000 t Trentino A-Adige 15
Plant sizes reflect regional policies, territorial needs, and differences between public sector and private sector investments. For example, the plants in Lombardia are mainly private (17,000 t/y average) whilst those in Emilia-Romagna are mostly public (30,000 t/y average). Veneto (42,000 t/y average) contains both public and private plants. We can observe that in 2000 no plants were operating in the Southern Regions of Italy, (Sicilia, Calabria, Sardegna, Basilicata, Molise, Campania with only one very small plant) where desertification is most evident and theoretically where compost is most needed. This is due to the very low costs of landfill (until 1998-9); most southern Regions waste investments are now driven directly by central government directives.
Where is the compost sold ? We can note two main markets for compost: half of all compost is sold to the mixers who bag it for retail sale; a third is sold to arable farmers. Compost is sold for circa Euro 5-10 / m3.
What is the market capacity? Our estimates are that the main market for compost is in arable farming, and that the overall market capacity is nearly 3,000,000 t/y, five times more than is currently sold.
What are the questions the industry is facing in Italy ? • Constant and overlapping public control systems from Regions, provinces, comunes, ARPA, USL, NOE, NAS are all controlling plants in a generally uncoordinated way. This wastes time, creates tension between authorities, is expensive for plants to manage. We ask for a simplified control system to be put in place.
Legislation: due to its waste-derived nature, compost is both governed by waste and agricultural legislation. We also have legislation deriving from the EU, State, Regions, Provinces and from two main Ministerial sources. • We are working with the Ministry of Environment on a definitive legislative text that will govern : authorisations and planning laws for compost plants; standard environmental requirements for plants; standard process requirements (for example, the new draft Regional Law of Lombardy is different to the national law now on odour controls); standard definitions of uses for non-quality composts in landscaping and rehabilitation.
Catering Wastes - the new EU legislation has yet to determine how catering wastes can go to composting plants as they are currently operating (the question of “closed” plants needs resolving). We also require clarification regarding the treatment process because these can compromise source separated collection schemes and may reduce the possibility of reaching nationally established recycling targets.
4) The market-place for compost is immature because this is a new product and because it has waste-based origins. There is diffidence from agricultural users. The Italian market requires a clear quality system and quality “label” to identify compost for users and guarantee suitability for specific uses. This is currently being undertaken in Italy by the national consortium. The Regions of Toscana, Veneto, Le Marche are also studying regional quality systems and labels to identify their products for local customers
5) Italy has the particular question of Desertification to affront- resulting in low levels of organic content in soils. Even in the Padana Valley levels < 1.0% are common. Compost is proven to be a means of restoring organic content. Italy, like France, Spain and Greece, is a signatory to the UN Treaty on Desertification. The Regions of Emilia Romagna, Piemonte and Umbria have enacted regulations to incentivate soil restoration in farming areas through use of organic soil improvers. Lombardia, Toscana and the Marche Regions will follow these examples in 2003.
We have observed in the Region of Emilia Romagna in the year 2000-2001, where modest incentives are given to farmers to restore the organic content in the soil, that this has led to a dramatic increase in compost sales. The incentives apply also to other organic-rich substances such as manure. The contribution given in this Region is circa €150-€180 per hectare over a five year period.
Why should we give incentives to farmers ? We know that compost is already a low priced commodity but given that the use of traditional soil improvers such as manure are not commonly used by farmers, we need some way of getting organic content back into the soil. The additional costs in the spreading of compost and in investment in machinery are offset by these incentives. The incentive is not to stimulate the market for compost, a low-priced commodity, but to stimulate recovery of organic content levels in arable soils.
Future Trends a) More plants : new plants are being planned and built in areas of central and northern Italy. The total number of plants operating will exceed 200 by the year 2005 for a total estimated capacity of over 3,500,000 t/y.If the trend in the growth of source separated waste collection continues, we could estimate the growth of composting to reach 6,000,000 t/y treatment capacity by the year 2010. This would mean that circa 20% of all household waste of organic origins, would go into composting.
b)New compost plants are operating in the south of Italy: Calabria, Campania, Sicily, Sardegna have all started functioning in 2002 as central government initiatives start to bear fruits. c) New waste streams are slowly going into composting as the Landfill Directive comes into force: some of our member companies are experimenting with cellusose based packaging wastes; others are taking more products from the food industry such as unsold foodstuffs (in cans and bottles); there is no big trend yet, but we forsee an increase in waste streams from farms, such as unsold fruit and vegetables.
Some examples of new waste streams beverage cartons tomato sauce in metallic packaging mayonnaise in metallic and cardboard packaging tomato sauce in metallic packaging